With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, the holiday shopping season is in full swing. Searching for the perfect presents for your nearest and dearest can be stressful — so this winter, let us lend a hand with the Opower holiday gift guide. All of these products are designed to help your loved ones save energy and be happy. There’s a little something for everyone. And best of all, these are the gifts that keep on giving — with lower energy bills all year round.
Many appliances and electronics pull power out of an electrical socket when they’re “idle” or turned off. This small amount of wasted energy is called phantom load, and over time, it can really add up. Getting someone a new gadget this winter? Pair it with a powerstrip. These handy plugs allow you to switch off multiple electronics at once so you can easily minimize phantom load — without having to unplug electronics individually. The best powerstrips also have advanced features, including timers, motion detectors, and remote switches, which make saving electricity even easier.
It turns out that conventional cooking appliances aren’t the most energy-efficient way to prepare a hot meal. Ovens require a lot of energy to warm up, and stovetops waste more than half the heat they produce. Enter the pressure cooker, which uses 70 percent less energy than either of these methods. How? By using steam to cook ingredients at a higher pressure and in less time. High-end pressure cookers have convenient features such as multiple temperature settings, timers, programmable start times, and “keep warm” settings that make saving energy deliciously simple. Your foodie will thank you.
By letting warm air escape, a poorly sealed window or door can dramatically increase the cost of heating your home. And pet doors can, too — letting chilly drafts slip inside all winter long. Energy-efficient pet doors provide an air- and weather-tight seal while still allowing furry friends to come and go as they please. Look for models with multiple flaps, a magnetic seal, and an insulating foam barrier to help your loved one reduce their heat waste.
‘Tis the season for short days, cold nights, and plodding through your Netflix queue. If you know someone who’s already planning a yuletide movie binge, give them a quality wool blanket so they can stay warm and save energy all winter long. For the perfect cozy movie night, turn the thermostat down to 68°F, and snuggle up to someone close. You can save 1-2% on heating costs for every degree you turn down the thermostat.
Dark winter nights can’t keep diehard readers from tackling their holiday reading lists. An LED light bulb will help the bibliophile in your life to stay up late with a great read — without driving up the electricity bill. Consider pairing a stylish tabletop lamp with an LED bulb, which uses 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb and lasts up to 25 years. Book light clips are another great option, which attach directly to the book cover, provide bright white directional light and have lifetimes of up to 100,000 hours — over 11 years of continuous reading!
Every family has an energy stickler — you know the one. The person who turns off lights in empty rooms. Who cranks down the heat. Who chides everybody else about the power bill. Give your efficiency guru the gift of knowledge with a plug power meter. These devices tell you how much power your appliances use — so you can take control of your usage. Some models even show you visualizations of your energy use, cost conversions, or have Bluetooth capabilities so you can analyze your usage through a smartphone app. Power meters also make a great hands-on, educational gift for kids.
Happy shopping, and happy holidays from the Opower team!
Emily DuBois is an Energy Efficiency Specialist on Opower's Behavioral Marketing and Design team. When she's not writing gift guides, Emily advises utilities and their customers on energy management strategies, curates Opower's efficiency tips, and helps Oployees up their game when it comes to saving energy.